Colin Sparks (Hong Kong Baptist University) – The Impact of Digital Technologies on the Newspaper Press in Mainland China
This contribution reviews the impact of digital technologies on Chinese newspapers. The diffusion of the smartphone has precipitated severe economic problems for the printed press. There have been falls in both readership and advertising revenues, which have had an effect on the structure of provincial-level press groups. The decline in economic viability has been felt most severely by the commercially-oriented titles, while the more politically-oriented papers have led the way in finding new sources of funding. These sources tend to tie journalism more tightly to political and economic power and for commercial goals to replace journalistic ones. This shifting balance of economic power has important consequences for the possibility of independent and critical journalism. The empirical material is specific to China, but it highlights more general theoretical questions as to the political economy of the media.